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You are a slave in Anne Arundel County Maryland and you have been your entire life. However, for the past year or so, the nation has been engulfed in a Civil War in which your freedom hangs in the balance. Although Maryland remains in the Union, pro-slavery sentiment is high among whites and especially your master and his family. But you've just received word that Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation is going to make you a [[free woman!]]
Hold on a minute. The Emancipation Proclamation doesn't apply to you. Lincoln fears that any threat to slavery in the Border States like Maryland will destroy any loyal sentiment from the slaveholders there. On the other hand, nearby Washington D.C. is now a free territory. You've hear of other slaves who've made the decision to flee. Do you [[run to freedom in D.C.?]] Or would it be safer to [[stay on your master's plantation]] and see what happens in the coming weeks?
It's been a very long day. Your master is incompetent. As a result, he often leaves his duties as head of the household to his overbearing and nasty wife. As usual, she was overly concerned with trivial matters and nitpicky about the way you served her afternoon tea. As a result, she has cut your rations and those of your children. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and your rations are already meager. It’s hard to watch your children suffer. It’s a good thing you are leaving soon. In fact, you are so fed up, you decide you can’t stay much longer. You decide to [[leave tomorrow.]]It's been a very long day. Your master is incompetent. As a result, he often leaves his duties as head of the household to his overbearing and nasty wife. As usual, she was overly concerned with trivial matters and nitpicky about the way you served her afternoon tea. As a result, she has cut your rations and those of your children. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and your rations are already meager. It’s hard to [[watch your children suffer.]]
You can’t bear the thought of leaving your children behind. You know it will be a hard journey alone with all three of them. But your husband lives on a neighboring plantation. If you [[wait a few more days]], you might be able to get a message to him. However, this is risky. Maybe you should just [[go ahead without him]] and hope that once you are settled and free from this place, you can find a way to be together.
You’ve attempted to send a message to your husband through a local free black man who sometimes works on your master’s farm. You are worried someone will find out. Every day that you don’t hear anything your [[anxiety grows.]]
It's late. Your heart is pounding. You're worried about your children giving you away but you think you can make it to nearby federal troops quickly. Hopefully they will take you in. They have to, right? All is quiet on the farm. You gather your children, give them each a sack of things to carry and [[head for the woods.]]Still no word. You can't stay any longer. You're too afraid that someone will discover your plans and tell your mistress. You decide to [[go ahead without him->go ahead without him]]
You head west. You know there are federal troops nearby. It's all anyone's been talking about. Every sound makes you jump. [[You hear a dog barking.]] Could that be them? Are they looking for you? Surely they've found you out. You take off running. You still don't know if your master is on your trail. The children can't run as fast. Do you [[keep up the pace?]] Or [[Hideout in the woods?]]Wait. What's that sound? That sounds like soldiers talking. You sneak away and try to [[find out more about your surroundings.]] you settle into a covered place. The [[sun will be up soon->keep up the pace?]] anyway.There they are! You've reached the Union Army! You [[run to the camp.]] The Union troops around Washington are flooded with fugitive slaves. They aren’t sure what to do with people like you— especially women and children. Conditions for fugitives are hard and many people around you are [[hungry and sick.]]The men work hard and long hours for the army. However, it seems like the soldier care little about the wellbeing of you and your children. You aren't well, but you are [[free]].By 1864, you are a slave no longer. It's clear the North is winning the war and Maryland's consititution makes you and your children free by law. No one can keep you from your hsuband now! For so long he's been so close to you and yet the institituon of slavery has kept you from each other. But you will be [[apart no longer!]]You think you might be able to take some food from the pantry for them. Maybe no one will notice. It's risky because you've heard that slaves who steal from their masters are punished brutally. You know your mistress will not be happy if she finds out. Should you [[risk it?]] Or [[see how things go in the coming days?]] You sneak into the masters pantry and start selectively picking things you think no one will notice. You hear the sound of [[someone's feet.]] Someone whispers your name and you stay very still. It's sally— one of the kitchen slaves. She creeps in the kitchen. She knows your situation and she also knows what will be missed from the kitchen. She helps you gather what you can use. "After all," she says, [["we made all this. It should be ours anyway."]] Those words stay with you and make you angry. Your master and mistress and everyone like them have kept you from the things that belong to you. Your children, your husband, the food and shelter you would have for them [[if only you were free->free]]. You think of freedom everyday and hope and pray it will come soon. Your master and mistress grow more agitated everyday as they, like you, hear of the victories of the Union Army and start to realize them impending death of slavery. Together, you have some choices to make. Where do you go? [[To Baltimore?]] You hear you might find work there. Your husband's master has encouraged many of his people, including your husband, to stay behind and work for him in exchange for shelter, food, and maybe a little money. Should you [[stay there with his ex-master?]]Many of your friends and family are heading to Baltimore to find jobs in the growing industry there. You think you can find a job as a house servant and that your children might also [[find work.]] Life on the Thomas plantation is not much different than slavery. You are relieved to be away from your picky mistress, but the housing here is much the same. All four of you are crowded into a one-room cabin and it's cold in the winter. Mr. Thomas pays your husband for his farm labor, but the funds are insufficient. He doesn't give you provisions, but allows you to use some of his land for your own means. The contract he arranged keeps your family in debt to him and [[ties you to the land.]] Racial tensions are high all around you. You were crushed to learn that your local church that meant so much to you has been burned to the ground by angry and hateful white men. Since the Union troops left, it seems things are [[only getting worse.]]But finding work isn't as easy as you hoped. Jobs are scarce, especially for you and your husband. You thought you might find refuge among the large black population in Baltimore, nut racial tensions are high. Your husband was attacked by a group of poor white men who are threatened by competition with blacks. There is a severe housing shortage and the places you can afford are rundown and [[overcrowded.]] You still haven't found work. Your husband and your oldest son are working in a canning factory. The hours are long and hard and they don't bring home enough to pay your rent. Your neighborhood is poor and predominately black. The police are brutal and you are afraid. [[You worry about your safety]] and the safety of your family at the hands of the tyrannical and power-hungry police.With the Union army gone and less federal intervention, the State government is growing harsher. Many of [[the hopes you had for the end of slavery->You worry about your safety]] are being stripped from your family by the General Assembly and their new constitution. The new state constitution is not much of an improvement on the old constitutions of the pre-war period. By law, the Orphan's Court can still bind out your children to a white apprentice if they believe you don't have the means to care for them yourself. As a result, the court has ordered your children be bound out. You hear some parents and advocates are [[fighting this.]] Should you try to fight it? Will it work out? Things haven't improved and you can't ignore your hunger and that of your children any longer. You decide to [[risk taking food->risk it?]] You go before the Circuit Court in an attempt to win back your children. How is this any different than slavery? But, you've heard that others have had some success overturning the judge's order. [[Maybe you will be successful too.]]
Success! Your children are returned to you! It's a small victory in a sea of challenges but things are looking up! It seems the white world is against you and you know true freedom will be a great struggle. Still, you know you can fight and this little victory is one of many to come!